Preview: Dragons v Ulster

Date published: March 6 2015

A loss to Zebre last time out means the Dragons enter their PRO12 fixture against Ulster looking to bounce back at Rodney Parade on Sunday.

Lock Andrew Coombs returns to the Newport Gwent Dragons starting line up for Sunday's clash. The Welsh international has been out of action with a back problem but returns to bolster the pack this weekend. 

In addition to the inclusion of Coombs there is one other change to the starting XV as flanker James Benjamin is also included. 

The back three remain unchanged as full-back Geraint Rhys Jones is joined by wings Tom Prydie and Hallam Amos. The centre pairing of Jack Dixon and Ashley Smith stays the same as well as half-backs Dorian Jones and Jonathan Evans getting the nod. 

The front row remains unchanged as props Boris Stankovich and Brok Harris join hooker and captain T. Rhys Thomas. The second row has one change made to it as Andrew Coombs joins Cory Hill and the back row also sees one change as flanker James Benjamin joins James Thomas and Nick Crosswell. 

The replacements bench has three personnel changes made to it as Phil Price, Scott Matthews and Carl Meyer join Rhys Buckley Lloyd Fairbrother, Matthew Screech, Luc Jones and Ashton Hewitt. 

Meanwhile, Darren Cave will captain Ulster for the first time. The 27-year-old has played 154 times for Ulster and leads a team aiming to make it five wins in a row in the competition.

Samoa international, Mike Stanley, is named at inside centre and will start his first game for the province. He is selected in place of the suspended Luke Marshall and is one of two changes to the side that beat Scarlets at Kingspan Stadium last weekend.

The other sees Ireland international back-row forward, Iain Henderson, picked at blindside flanker in place of Roger Wilson, who also misses the game because of suspension.

Ulster Academy and Ireland U20s back, Sam Arnold, is named among the replacements and will make his first senior appearance for the province if called upon. 

In the forwards, Callum Black starts at loosehead, Rob Herring continues at hooker and Wiehahn Herbst is named at tighthead.
Ireland international, Dan Tuohy, partners Franco van der Merwe in the second row. In the back row, Henderson is joined by Nick Williams at number eight and Clive Ross, who continues at openside.

Ruan Pienaar, who is on 499 points in the Pro12, starts at scrum-half and is partnered in the half-backs by Ian Humphreys. Stanley and Cave start in midfield, with Craig Gilroy, Louis Ludik and Michael Allen named in the back three.

Form: Newport Gwent Dragons only victory in their last five Guinness PRO12 matches was 16-14 in Leinster in round 14. Dragons have won just two of their last seven home games at Rodney Parade in the PRO12. Ulster have won their last four games in the Guinness PRO12 since losing out in Leinster on 3rd January. The Ulstermen have won their last two away games in the tournament but have not won three in a row on the road in the PRO12 since December 2012. Ulster’s only win in Wales in their last six visits came at Cardiff Blues in the PRO12 in September. Dragons only victory in their last six encounters with Ulster was 15-8 at Rodney Parade in this equivalent fixture in round 1 last season.

The teams:

Newport Gwent Dragons: 15 Geraint Rhys Jones, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Jack Dixon, 12 Ashley Smith, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Dorian Jones, 9 Jonathan Evans, 8 Nick Crosswell, 7 James Benjamin, 6 James Thomas, 5 Cory Hill, 4 Andrew Coombs, 3 Brok Harris, 2 T.Rhys Thomas (c), 1 Boris Stankovich
Replacements: 16 Rhys Buckley, 17 Phil Price, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Matthew Screech, 20 Scott Matthews, 21 Luc Jones, 22 Carl Meyer, 23 Ashton Hewitt. 

Ulster: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Darren Cave (c), 12 Mike Stanley, 11 Michael Allen, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Clive Ross, 6 Iain Henderson, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Dan Tuohy, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Calum Black
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Andrew Warwick, 18 Bronson Ross, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 Robbie Diack, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Sam Arnold, 23 Rory Scholes

Date: Sunday, 8 March
Venue: Rodney Parade
Kick-off: 16:00 GMT
Referee: John Lacey
Assistant Referees: Ben Whitehouse, Martyn Lewis
TMO: Derek Bevan